When I buy a premade pepper cream sauce at the grocery store it tastes good enough. It is peppery, creamy and salty. But when I try to make this myself I can't get it to taste at least neutral salty or peppery. Either the taste is really weak or too strong.

I use this recipe:

  1. Put dairy butter in pan (low heat)
  2. Put some flour in it (give it a stir)
  3. Put some water from the pan with vegetables in it
  4. Add grinded pepper (all seasons)
  5. Add peppercorns
  6. Add salt

Now I could experiment, but I've done so a lot. The nice peppery creamy taste comes in very late when I make it myself. When I buy it premade it always tastes salty and creamy immediately and then the peppery kicks in. How do they do this? How can I make the taste better; what am I missing?

  • 3
    This is just a different recipe rather than a response to your question, but I would usually fry shallots in butter, add pepper, deglaze with brandy, then add stock and reduce, and add cream and reduce. Stock, brandy and shallots will all add flavour compared to your recipe, and cream will add richness compared to just thickening with flour.
    – dbmag9
    Mar 4, 2021 at 12:43
  • Thanks for this question, the answers explain why my white-sauce is never peppery enough, despite the truck-load of black pepper I grind in (and yes, I like the specks & spots).
    – Kingsley
    Mar 4, 2021 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


I haven't made peppercorn sauce for many years, but from recollection, how you combine the pepper and the fat is the key. Many sauces use cream, but it's not completely necessary. The pepper flavour is staying in the peppercorns, which is why it doesn't come on early.

I suspect you need to cook the pepper in the butter before making the roux. This will extract the flavour into the sauce better, as piperine (the most important component of the flavour) isn't really soluble in water.

Some recipes use alcohol, which also dissolves piperine, e.g. this one (in French) makes a reduction using cognac and adds the butter later.

I've started making it again recently, and tend to slightly crack the peppercorns and add them to hot fat (butter or olive oil; I normally soften some finely-chopped onions so it's in the pan already). Then I add alcohol - brandy is traditional but whisky is good here - and simmer as lightly as possible for a few minutes to reduce, before adding cream, If you want it thicker, you can add just a little flour before adding the alcohol, but then simmering to make a reduction from the alcohol is harder.

White pepper is also quite common; I can't instantly find a recipe but some use ground white pepper in a cream-based sauce, with whole black or green peppercorns. If you're using ground white pepper, buy it fresh; it doesn't keep its flavour very well.

As for the saltiness, are you adding as much as the commercial sauce? Commercial sauces often use shocking amounts of salt, but you might not need as much once the pepper flavour is dealt with.

  • 2
    I'll try this ASAP and I'll be back with my results Mar 4, 2021 at 12:48
  • 2
    PSA that white pepper can produce an undesired flavor in a subset of the population (myself included) and may be problematic if cooking for a group of people with unknown palettes. cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/10713/…
    – Onyz
    Mar 4, 2021 at 16:44

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